Monday, March 31, 2014

Romans 7:24-25

Romans 7:24-25 - What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, I myself in my mind am a slave to God’s law, but in the sinful nature a slave to the law of sin.

“What a wretched man I am?” I’ve heard Christians quote this scripture referring to themselves, even though they have already accepted Jesus. This is not accurate. In the context of what Paul is writing here we see that he is talking about his old self, before Christ.
Before we accept Jesus and receive forgiveness for our sins we were slaves to that nature. That is when this was true, we were wretched men, deserving death. Paul goes on in this passage to show us where our hope comes from. He asks, “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” and then immediately follows it with the answer. “Thanks be to God - through Jesus Christ our Lord!”
So if we look at our lives we can see that we were trapped in sin and a slave to the sinful nature. When we realized our sin we became conscious of the fact that according to the law we deserved death. But thanks be to God, who, through His infinite Love, sent Jesus to take our sin and freed us from the bondage we were in. He made us righteous.
Now this is not to say we will never sin again, but we are no longer controlled by sin. Now, through the Spirit, our minds are in line with God’s law, which is summed up in Loving God and Loving people. We still have the sinful nature in the form of the flesh, but the Spirit gives us power over it.
So remember, you are no longer wretched. That was your old self. Now, through Jesus, you are righteous and Holy, set apart for God. So put your flesh under and let your spirit reign in your heart and mind as you are led by the Spirit of God.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Romans 6:10-11

Romans 6:10-11 - The death He (Jesus)  died, He died to sin once for all; but the life He lives He lives to God. In the same way count yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.

We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory (Romans 3:23). Sin deserves death, so because we have all sinned we all deserve death, but Christ died for us. Jesus died the death that we deserved. He took our sin, all of it, and paid it’s penalty.
Before this, God’s people had to sacrifice animals every time they sinned in order to pay the penalty, but Christ died once. Being righteous He died and took care of all sin; past, present and future. The price has been paid; we have been set free.
Then Paul talks about Jesus’ life. “The life He lives, He lives to God.” Notice this text speaks of a current life, where as when Paul speaks of Jesus death it is in the past tense. Christ has already died, it’s done and over, never needing to happen again. Sin has been taken and defeated and now Jesus lives. He was resurrected and now He lives to God.
Now it is time for us to join with Christ. Just as He died to sin we must also count ourselves dead to sin. Jesus already took our sin and freed us from it. It’s done and the life we now live we must live to God.
This doesn’t happen on our own, but because of Christ. He took our sin and brought us into the kingdom of God as children. Just as we join with Him in His death, so we also join with Him in His life. Not just surviving, but thriving. It is time to to not just make it through, but to really live and do it to God. We must live our lives to glorify Him through all we do and say. Jesus is our example. Let’s live today as we follow in His footsteps.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Romans 5:8

Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates His own Love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.

It is not enough to just say you Love someone. Love is powerful, but as mere words it is empty. It must be shown. James talks of faith without works as being dead; Love is the same. Without action or demonstration the words, “I Love you” are hollow and meaningless.
All through scripture we see people talking of the Love of God. God’s Love is the most powerful thing we know and we know this because He has shown us. It started in creation. All creation was based out of Love. God created the world as a place for us, His most Loved creation. Then we messed up and fell out of fellowship with Him, but He didn't give up on us. He setup a rescue plan through Jesus to bring us back to Him. This, too, was because He Loves us.
Jesus gave His life due to the Love He has for us. When the disciple John wrote his gospel he referred to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus Loved.” He did this because he had a revelation of how God saw him. Later he writes, “We Love, because He first Loved us”(1 John 4:19) and “God is Love” (1 John 4:8).
In Ephesians Paul talks about how as believers we are “rooted and established in Love” (Romans 3:17). Then in Romans says he is convinced that “nothing in all creation will be able to separate us from the Love of God that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:38-39). These men all wrote about God’s Love from experience. They knew that God Love them, because they had seen it.
God doesn't just tell us that He Loves us and then leave it at that. He demonstrates His Love. While we had our backs turned on Him and were living for ourselves God sent Jesus to die for us. Not because He had to or we deserved it, but because He Loves us. God Loves you and the proof is all around you. Make a point to recognize God’s Love in your life.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Romans 4:20-21

Romans 4:20-21 - Yet he (Abraham) did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.

Abraham is referred to as the father of faith. He gained this title, not because he was perfect or did everything right, but because when God made him a promise he believed it. Abraham and his wife, Sarah, had hoped and prayed for a child all their lives, but they were getting old. They were both past normal child bearing age, but God made a promise to Abraham. He told him that his offspring would be too many to count and that he would be the father of many nations.
In the natural this was hard to see, but Abraham believed God. And according to the promise they had a child. This child was the fulfillment of what God had told him. Then soon after God asked Abraham to offer up his boy as a sacrifice to Him. Instead of complaining and making excuses Abraham was willing to do this.
See, God had promised Abraham offspring through his son Isaac, and Abraham knew that God always stayed true to His promises. No matter what happened, Abraham knew God would deliver Isaac back to him. As the story continues we see that is just what God did. There was a ram provided as a substitute and Isaac was given back to his father.
In this verse Paul describes the faith of Abraham. He tells us that “he did not waver through unbelief” and that he was “fully persuaded that God had power to do what He had promised.”
Faith is looking at what seems to be real and saying we are going to believe God instead. We are not to be moved by what we see, but by the Word of God and His Spirit inside of us. Circumstance may try and tell you one thing, but instead, let God’s Word “fully persuade” you to believe all that He has promised. His Word is true and His promises will be fulfilled.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Romans 3:22-24

Romans 3:22-24 - This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There’s no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.

In order to be in a relationship with God we must be righteous. To be righteous means to be in right standing with God. We must be purified and cleansed of our sin. Forgiveness comes free for all who believe, but first we must recognize the sin in our lives.
If we don’t see that we have sin in our life we will not see the need to be cleansed from it. Romans 3:23 reminds us, “for all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” God’s glory is for man to stand pure and righteous before Him. We are to be a reflection of all that He is, but we cannot do that on our own.
Before Christ, our lives were full of sin and we deserved death. Romans 3:23 reminds us of this, but Paul’s message continues on. That is only half of the sentence. Verse 24 goes on to state, “and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.”
Notice the last part of this is in the past tense, “redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” Jesus has already brought redemption and forgiveness of sins. We just have to receive it by faith. It says we are justified freely by His grace.
By the grace of God we are justified through faith in what Jesus did for us. Faith that He took our sin and brought redemption through His death and resurrection. So we must recognize the sin, but then receive the forgiveness for it and by grace know that we are justified and righteous before God.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Romans 2:1

Romans 2:1 - You, therefore, have no excuse, you who pass judgement on someone else, for at whatever point you judge the other, you are condemning yourself, because you who pass judgement do the same things.

As we first look at this scripture we see that it begins with a “therefore”. In our men’s bible study when we see this we always ask the question, “What is it therefore?”, because it is always referring to the scripture that comes before it. At the end of chapter one of Romans we see Paul telling us not to approve of the evil of men’s deeds. Then he goes on to tell us not to judge men. At first glance it almost seems to be a contradiction, but then we look closer.
As we see in this verse we are not to judge others, but we must also be careful. Just because we do not judge the person, doesn’t mean we don’t judge the sin. We need to take a stand against sin and judge whether something is right or wrong. When we see sin we do not accept it or associate with it. Sin leads to death and we have been given life.
Then there’s the sinner. Do not judge that person. We are to Love them. Jesus Loved sinners; not their sin, but the sinner. All through the gospels we see Jesus hanging out and associating with sinners, but He was never a part of their sin.
So we must be careful. It is easy and almost natural for us to judge others. We see someone on the street or someone enters the room and we immediately form an opinion about them. Now this will never change, but how that opinion is formed needs to change. Instead of judgement we need to bring Love. Learn to look at a person through the eyes of Jesus. Love them for who they are; don’t hate them for what they do. Love the sinner and hate the sin.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Romans 1:16-17

Romans 1:16-17 - I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile. For in the gospel a righteousness from God is revealed, a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”

Wow! What a statement! “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” How many of us can say that? When Paul says gospel he is referring to “the message referring to Christ, the kingdom of God, and salvation.” This is a message of power, because in it you will find the truth of how we are made righteous before God.
Let’s go back to that first statement though. Are you ashamed of the gospel? Most of us would answer, “No, of course not!” I encourage you to not just brush off this question, but be honest with yourself. Think about it in relation to other things in your life.
Think about a guy who gets a brand new car. Not just any car either, this is a sleek black Corvette. It’s the fastest most beautiful car you’ve ever seen. Is he going to park it in his garage and leave it there? No! He is going to want everyone to see it. When he goes somewhere he will park right in front, maybe even drive by a couple times while revving the motor, just in case you didn’t notice him the first time he went by. Then, when he sees you later he will tell you all about his sweet new ride. He wants to show it off and let everyone know that he owns it.
Then there’s the other guy. He just got a new car as well, but his was the $200 dollar special. It looks like garbage, but it runs. This guy would like the “new” car, but can only afford this for now. His car looks as if it will fall apart, but it gets him where he’s going. Definitely not something he will be bragging about. In fact, he doesn’t even like being seen in it.
If you look at how you present the gospel are you like the guy in the new sports car, or the $200 dollar special? And so I ask you again, “Are you ashamed of the gospel?”

Monday, March 24, 2014

Acts 28:31

Acts 28:31 - Boldly and without hindrance he (Paul) preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.

What kind of legacy are you leaving behind.? When you leave this earth what will people remember you for? Paul had done a lot of bad things in his life. He grew up in the teachings and doctrines of a Pharisee, and once he became an adult he strongly opposed Christians.
Throughout his first few years in the religious world he heavily persecuted the church, throwing Christians in jail and even putting some of them to death. He didn't start off well, but then Jesus got a hold of him.
Paul changed and devoted himself to preaching the kingdom of God and teaching about Jesus. Now, at the end of the book of Acts, as Luke is concluding his testimony of the early Christians, he makes this statement about Paul: “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus.” That’s what Paul is remembered for; his legacy. Despite all he did in the past.
God is saying that to us as well. It doesn't matter what you've done or where you come from. What matters is what you are doing now and where you are going. God does not want someone who’s “perfect” and already has it all worked out. He wants you. Come as you are. Let Jesus cleanse you and renew you.
Surrender your life to Him and He will work in you. You do not have to be known for what you've done, but for what God has done in you. Zig Ziglar put it like this You have made some mistakes, and you may not be where you want to be, but that has nothing to do with your future.” Let God create a legacy through you.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Acts 27:25

Acts 27:25 - So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as He told me.

Paul and his companions were on a journey to Rome. It was nearing winter and Paul had warned the men that they should stop for the winter, but they had decided to try and make it to the next port. They chose poorly, because now they were in the middle of a storm, facing hurricane winds. Much of their supplies had already been thrown overboard, and they had given up hope for survival.
Then Paul had a vision. In his vision he saw an angel of the Lord who told him, “Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.” After this vision Paul was now trying to reassure the men he was with. He told them that they would lose the ship, but not one of them would lose their lives.
Even in the midst of a hurricane storm Paul chose to believe God. He knew that the storm was bad, but he also knew that God would bring him and those he was with through the storm to safety.
We also have “storms” in our lives. There are things going on all around you and it seems like no matter what you do you cannot make any headway. Sometimes you may even feel like giving up and throwing in the towel. I want to encourage you today. Take courage. God is with you. The bible says He will never leave you or forsake you (Deut. 31:6 & Heb. 13:5). You may lose some stuff along the way, but put your faith in God and you will emerge victorious.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Acts 26:20

Acts 26:20 - First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and all Judea, and to the Gentiles also. I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.

Paul preached that we need to repent and turn to God. Repent means to “feel or express sincere regret or remorse about one’s wrongdoing or sin.” So to repent means that we were doing something wrong and now we regret it. We know that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God,” but repentance comes when we realize it in our own lives.
In order to repent, we must first recognize the sin and that it is wrong. As we defined repent it means that we are feeling regret and remorse for the bad things we have done, then Paul takes it a step further. He says, “repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds.” So it doesn't stop at repentance, it begins there.
We must feel regret for our sins, then turn to God and receive forgiveness. After we have received forgiveness we must prove our repentance true by our actions. Our deeds will show if we truly repented or not. If you are continuing to sin your remorse was only temporary and not true.
That is part of why Paul makes the statement “repent and turn to God.” God is the only One that can help us truly turn from sin, fully and completely. As we draw closer to God we move further and further from sin. If we just repent for the sin and don’t turn to God, the remorse we feel will only be temporary and the sin will end up creeping back in.
Surrendering to God and letting His Spirit flow through us is the only way to truly get rid of sin. As we draw closer to Him, we will begin to be more like Him and start to take on His view of sin. Then when see sin in our lives it will disgust us and we will want to get rid, not just because God said so, but because it makes us sick.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Acts 25:23

Acts 25:23 - The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and entered the audience with the high ranking officers and leading men of the city. At the command of Festus, Paul was brought in.

When Festus took over as governor Paul had already been in prison for at least two years. As new Governor Festus did not know all the details of why the Jews wanted Paul dead, so he brought him before them at Caesarea to stand trial. All the chief priests and Jewish leaders were trying to figure out a way to kill Paul, but there accusation did not hold any truth. To keep from being sent back to Jerusalem Paul appealed to Caesar.
As a Roman citizen he had the right to stand before Caesar, so Festus granted his request. Meanwhile, while waiting to be transferred, Paul was left in prison. Then king Agrippa and Bernice came to pay their respects to the new governor. Intrigued by Paul’s story, they asked to hear him speak. Festus granted their request and brought Paul before them.
At first glance it is hard to see how this story relates to us. Think about Paul’s situation, though. He’s in prison and has been for quite some time. He just stood on trial before the governor and now has to wait until he can be sent to Rome.
Now he has an opportunity that he would not have gotten in normal circumstances. God opens the door for him to share his story and the story of Jesus with a king and all the high ranking officers and leading men of the city.
This is a reminder to us to always be prepared. The Word says be prepared in season and out of season (2 Timothy 4:2). You never know when a door might be opened to you to share your story of Jesus. Always be ready and God will give you opportunity.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Acts 24:14

Acts 24:14 - However, I admit that I worship the God of our fathers as a follower of the Way, which they call a sect. I believe everything that agrees with the Law and that is written in the Prophets.

Paul was on trial before Felix, the governor. Some of the Jewish elders and a lawyer named Tertullus had come with Paul to stand before Felix to present their case against him. Tertullus had just finished accusing Paul of being a ringleader and troublemaker who stirred up riots and even tried to desecrate the temple. Now it is time for Paul to speak.
As he began he first gave honor to Felix, acknowledging his position of authority. Then he continued on to make his defense. He spoke of how the accusations were not true and how he believed in the Law and the Prophets, just like his accusers. Paul knew the Word of God well. He had been born and raised a Pharisee and it had been drilled into him from a very young age.
Now, as he makes his defense he is able to use the Word to support his case. God’s Word is our only constant in an ever changing world. We know that God is “the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8)” and that “heaven and earth will pass away, but My Words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35).” That is why it is so important for us as believers to read the Word daily. David writes, blessed is the man who meditates day and night on the Word (Psalm 1:1-2).
As we get into the Word we get to know God better. That is the most important reason to read it. It describes Him and tells us who He is. It also gives us the ammunition to fight off the attacks of the enemy. When Jesus was being tempted by Satan He used scripture to overcome him. Also, as in Paul’s case here we will be able to use it in witnessing and in our defense. The Holy Spirit will bring it to our remembrance when we need it (John 14:26). Make a commitment to get into His Word and meditate on it.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Acts 23:11

Acts 23:11 - The following night the Lord stood near Paul and said, “Take courage! As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so you must also testify in Rome.”

It wasn't looking good for Paul. He was locked in prison, but his trouble didn’t stop at that. There were over forty men who had taken a vow not to eat or drink until they had killed him. Paul had been warned by the Spirit that he would face prison and hardship and now he was in the middle of it.
It’s hard to say what Paul was thinking at this time, but as we know, it is easy for our minds to wander. He was locked in prison, alone, away from all his friends and fellow believers. And even if he was released from prison there was a mob that wanted him dead. It could get discouraging, but the Lord is an encourager.
God saw Paul sitting alone in prison, without anyone that could support or encourage him in this time of trouble. So He did it. God knew Paul needed encouraged, so He came and stood near him. “Take courage!” He said, “As you have testified about me in Jerusalem, so also you must testify about me in Rome.”
Notice that The Lord did not stop at just giving Paul encouragement. He continued on to confirm to Paul that he was on the right path. When we face trials in the midst of following God we often question whether we heard God right in His plan for us. Beforehand we can be confident in what God is leading us to do, but then once it becomes hard we’re not always so sure. That’s when we need most to hear the voice of the Spirit.
God’s Spirit speaks to your heart and mind, letting you know that you are not alone. When you are walking in God’s will it will not always be easy. We must learn to trust God and let Him carry us through the hard times. There is always victory in following God if we trust Him.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Acts 22:14-15

Acts 22:14-15 - “Then he said: ‘The God of our fathers has chosen you to know His will and to see the Righteous One and to hear his Words from His mouth. You will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.’”

This is the message that God spoke through Ananias to Paul when he first came to know Jesus. It is also the same message that God speaks to each of us when we come to know Him. First we need to recognize that God has chosen each one of us. We have a calling on our lives that needs answered.
In the book of Romans it says, “For those God foreknew He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brothers. And these He predestined, He also called;” and it continues on from there (Romans 8:29-30). What I want you to see is that it begins with those God foreknew and continues on to say that we are called. Who did God foreknow? Since God knows all and is the Creator we can also rest assured that He knew each one of us before we were born. So again I ask, who did God foreknow? You and me and everyone else.
So as we see the progression we know that we are called. And to proceed on we can see that God wants you to know His will. Romans 12:2 says “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is - His good, perfect and pleasing will.” And through the Holy Spirit we will be able to see Jesus and hear the Words from His mouth just as Paul did. We also have the Bile as our guide.
Now for the last part of this message to Paul. “You will be His witness to all men of what you have seen and heard.” Jesus has called us, as His disciples, to be witnesses to the world. This doesn't necessarily mean leaving all that you are doing, it means being a witness wherever you find yourself. There are people all around you; at work; at school; your neighborhood. God has called you to the people that you come in contact with. We must answer His call and be a witness and testify to all that God has done in our lives.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Acts 21:13-14

Acts 21:13-14 - Then Paul answered, “Why are you weeping and breaking my heart? I am ready not only to be bound, but also to die in Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” When he would not be dissuaded, we got up and said, “The Lord’s will be done.”

Paul had given up his life to serve Jesus. It was no longer about comfort and enjoying worldly pleasure, but about Jesus. In his letter to the Romans he puts it this way, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us (Romans 8:18).” He was willing to suffer for Jesus, even to the point of death.
Paul knew that the Holy Spirit was leading him to go to Jerusalem. He also knew that the would be bound and imprisoned when he got there. All the believers that were with him were trying to persuade him not to go, but he had made up his mind to follow Jesus, whatever the cost.
God has a plan for each one of us. He has a purpose and a calling that we stepped into when we first accepted Christ into our hearts. Overall the plan is the same, it is just the details that differ. We are called to testify to the gospel of God’s grace. Wherever we are, whoever we are with, this should be our goal.
God may not ask you to go to prison for HIm, but would you be willing to? It is God’s desire is that all people be saved and come to know Him (1 Timothy 2:4). We are the instruments that God uses to reach people in the world. Wherever there are people, God needs someone to testify. What has God asked you to do? Where has He asked you to go? Are you willing to give up what you have in obedience to Him?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Acts 20:24

Acts 20:24 - However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord has given to me - the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.

Paul was on his way to Jerusalem. He knew that the Holy Spirit was leading him there to share the message of the gospel. On his way he was passing near Ephesus and wanted to see the leaders there one last time. As he spoke to them he told them that he know what was waiting for him in Jerusalem. All he knew was that the Spirit had told him that he would eventually face prison and hardship. He also told them that he would not see any of them again, but it would all be worth it.
His life was no longer about his own desires and pleasures, but about God. As he says in this verse “I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.”
Now most of us have a ways to go before we can say, “my life means nothing to me,” but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't be fulfilling the calling on our life. God has called each one of us to testify the gospel of His grace through Jesus Christ. It is not necessarily God’s desire that you give up everything, just that you put Him before everything. We must answer the call He has placed on us and live the life He has for us. As we follow His leading and draw closer to Him we will begin to value Him more than ourselves.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Acts 19:4-6

Acts 19:4-6 - Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the One coming after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

As Paul was spreading the Word of God throughout the city of Ephesus he found some men who already believed. These men had heard the message and turned their lives over to Jesus. They had received the baptism of John, water baptism, but knew nothing of the baptism of the Spirit. When Paul asked them about it they said they had never heard anything about the Spirit.
On hearing this Paul began to explain the differences between the two baptisms. Now both baptisms are important. When we receive Christ we get baptized in water. As Paul explains it, this is a baptism of repentance. It is an outward sign of what is going on inside our heart and mind. Water baptism represents us turning from our old life of sin and turning to new life in Jesus. Paul later describes it as a representation of us joining with Christ in death, burial and resurrection.
While this is important we must not stop here. Jesus has more for us. He wants to give the Holy Spirit as our helper. Once inside us the Spirit is our direct link to God. Paul says later that God’s Spirit “testifies along with our spirit that we are God’s children(Romans 8:16).” As we see in this passage the Spirit of God often comes with the laying on of hands, but it is not always that way.
You can receive the Spirit on your own. if you have not yet received this baptism don’t wait any longer. Go before God and be baptized into the name of Jesus and let His Spirit come inside of you. Then you can walk in direct fellowship with God.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Acts 18:9-10

Acts 18:9-10 - One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you, and no one is going to attack and harm you, because I have many people in this city.”

When Paul was preaching the Word of God in Corinth he was being opposed by many of the Jews. He was trying to present them with the Truth and they were arguing with him and causing him grief. In reading this chapter you can tell that Paul was getting frustrated. At one point he shook out his clothes in protest and said to them, “Your blood be on your own heads! I am clear of my responsibility. From now on I will go to the Gentiles.”
Paul was clearly at his wits end with these people, but God was not done working through him here. That’s when Paul had this vision. In it God speaks to him saying, “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.” If that isn’t encouraging nothing will be. Ask yourself this question, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” And God tells Paul right here that He is with him.
In our lives it is easy to get discouraged, just like Paul did. Things don’t seem to be going our way. Everytime we try to do something its like running into a wall. While this scripture tells of a time when God was specifically speaking to Paul, I believe He is telling us the same thing. “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.”
We have God on our side and His Spirit is in us. Without Him we can do nothing, but with Him we know that all things are possible. Now again I ask you this question, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” No one.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Acts 17:11

Acts 17:11 - Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

There is not a lot of information in the Bible regarding the Bereans. Yet we could say, “Be like the Bereans.” In saying that I am of course referring to this scripture and the Bereans approach to the Word of God.
In our lives we hear all kinds of teaching. You will hear one person say one thing and another say something contradictory, and they will use the same scripture to back up their point. Often times when a message is presented it seems like sound teaching, but people make mistakes. We are human; sometimes we misinterpret the Word of God. Then there are those who do it on purpose to use the Word to persuade people to their way of thinking.
That is why it is important to get into the Word yourself. You must read the scriptures in context. Don’t just take out what you want and leave the rest. What is in there, God allowed to be in there. According to 2 Timothy 3:16 “All scripture is God breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
Sometimes it is hard to hear the Spirit of God among all the other voices in our head. We hear something and then we are not sure if it is truth or not. That is why we must follow the example of the Bereans. Every time you hear a message or receive a Word from God, first receive it with eagerness. Then take to the Bible. God will never contradict His Word. If what you are hearing does not line up with the Word toss it out. Get rid of it.
We have the Bible to help keep us grounded. It is important to get to know it. Get it in your heart and mind. Meditate on it. You will find the more you fill your head with God’s Word, the more the other “voices” start to quiet down and it will be easier to hear God speak to you. Then when you hear someone teach, you can receive it eagerly and take it to the Word for confirmation.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Acts 16:31

Acts 16:31 - They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved - you and your household.”

Yes, it really is that simple. Too often we make things overly complicated. We set rules and regulations on salvation that God never did. In this story Paul puts it plainly. Let’s take a look at how this story unfolds.
Paul and Silas are in Macedonia spreading the good news of Jesus to all who will listen. People are getting saved and the church is growing. Then there is a certain servant girl. This girl has been following them around. She had an evil spirit in her and she had been taunting Paul and Silas for days. Finally Paul had enough and commands the spirit to come out of her. This made the girls owners very upset. With the spirit in her she had been able to tell the future and had been making them a lot of money. Now that the spirit was gone their days of profiting off her were gone. In their anger they stirred up the crowds against these men of God and had them thrown in prison.
So, after all the good they had been doing for God, Paul and Silas found themselves locked in jail. And on top of that they had been severely beaten before they were imprisoned. That’s not a good end to a day; sitting in jail with untreated wounds from their beating. If you think about it, that’s enough to get anyone down, which it may have, but Paul and Silas knew where their strength came from. They began worshiping and singing praises to God. While they were doing this the earth shakes and the door swings open and their chains fall off. When the jailer realizes what happened he thinks all the prisoners have escaped so he gets ready to kill himself. Before he can Paul calls to him, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”
This opens the door into the jailers heart and he now wants what Paul and Silas have. Now I want you to notice that these men did not go into the prison preaching. They were just worshiping God amidst their troubles and God opened the doors. First to the prison, then to this mans heart. So we must learn that it is not always about what we say. It is about our heart and the leading of the Holy Spirit. If Paul and Silas had gone into that prison feeling down and depressed the jailer would not have turned to Jesus. 
I encourage you today, whatever trials you are facing, worship God through them. It may not always be pleasant, but it will end good. God works all things for the good of those who Love Him. So put your trust in Him and let His joy be your strength. You never know what doors may be opened to you if you keep your attitude good..

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Acts 15:8-9

Acts 15:8-9 - God, who knows the heart, showed that He accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as He did to us. He made no distinction between us and them, for He purified their hearts by faith.

Peter spoke these words as he was defending the Gentiles in front of the other Jews. A dispute had risen up. Some thought that when the Gentiles got saved they needed to adopt all the rules that the Jews were supposed to follow. They were specifically referring to circumcision. This is something that the Jews held in high regard, because it was a sign of the original covenant between God and man. Now they thought that since the Gentiles were being adopted into the kingdom of God, they should start doing these things as well.
These men had forgotten that it is on no part of our own that we are saved. It is not by works or deeds, but through faith, by the grace of God. Peter is now reminding them of that. He speaks of God looking at the heart of man and that every man is the same in God’s kingdom.
Now, as Christians, we too can fall into this trap. We get into the thinking that if you are a child of God you should dress or act a certain way. Sometimes it falls to actions as well, what we should or shouldn't do.
In the spirit of what Peter said here let me tell you this: It does not matter what you look like; how many tattoos or piercings you have; or what clothes you are wearing. Likewise, it does not matter what you are doing, whether it be smoking or drinking or what you are watching on TV. God wants you for you. You don’t need to change a bunch of things to come to Him. He says, “Come as you are!” No matter what, you are accepted and Loved. Let the Holy Spirit tell you what to change in your life, not the traditions of men. God just wants your heart.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Acts 14:3

Acts 14:3 - So Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time there, speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed the message of His grace, by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.

During this time Paul and Barnabas were traveling around the area preaching the gospel. They were bringing the message to both the Jews and the Gentiles. In each city they went to they would stay for awhile preaching, teaching and encouraging the believers. Then they would move on to the next city. This particular verse speaks of a time when they were in Iconium. They had preached in the Jewish synagogue and brought a great number of people to Christ, but there were some who opposed the message of Jesus. These people refused to believe and tried to turn others against Paul and Barnabas by stirring them up and poisoning their minds.
For this reason Paul and Barnabas had to stay awhile; to make sure the believers had a foundation that could not be corrupted. This verse stood out to me because of how its laid out. First you see Paul and Barnabas. They have decided to stay longer in Iconium. Next it tells us that they are speaking boldly for the Lord, but that’s not all. We see that they are not alone, because it goes on to tell us that the Lord confirmed the message they brought by enabling them to do miraculous signs and wonders.
In this particular situation it did not start with miracles, it started with boldly proclaiming the Word of the Lord. After that God performed miracles through them. This is often how it works. Miracles confirm the Word that has already been spoken. We need to stop waiting for miracles and just start speaking what we know. And do it boldly. God is always with you and He will confirm the Words you are speaking in whatever way is needed. Boldly speak out and trust that God will do the rest.